Texas State appointed to national group addressing shortage of special education teachers

Emma Carberry | June 7, 2019

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By fall 2022, this select network of universities plans to improve the recruitment and retention of special education teachers in the U.S.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) has invited Texas State University’s College of Education to participate in its newly formed Reducing the Shortage of Special Education Teachers Networked Improvement Community (NIC). Only 10 colleges of education nationwide were selected for membership in the NIC, which will focus on examining ways to address special education teacher recruitment and retention. 

Participating universities were selected based on several criteria, including their commitment to increasing recruitment and diversity in special education degree programs, partnering with local school districts to prepare high quality special education teachers, and ensuring full licensure of special education teacher candidates before they become teachers of record. 

“This initiative is critical for helping to improve access to learning for students with disabilities from all backgrounds and to better equip special education teachers to become more effective in the classroom,” said Jacqueline Rodriguez, AACTE Assistant Vice President of Programs and Professional Learning.

Representatives from Texas State and the other selected universities will work to address the national shortage of and lack of diversity among fully prepared and credentialed special education teachers in public schools. 

Dr. Cathy Newman Thomas and Dr. Glenna Billingsley, associate professors in Curriculum and Instruction, will represent Texas State on the project. Thomas and Billingsley, along with the other NIC members, will focus on ways to increase enrollment, particularly for candidates of color, those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those with disabilities; strengthen partnerships between the colleges of education and P-12 schools to address special education teacher turnover; and create new programs in partnership with P-12 schools to prepare and retain diverse special educators for specific vacancies. 

For this project, the Texas State team will partner with Lockhart ISD, represented by Melissa Corona, Director of Special Services. 

In the first phase of the four-year program, the selected leaders in the area of special education teacher preparation will spend two years identifying the best practices that are being utilized in their programs and assemble case studies. In phase two, university representatives will collect and analyze data to examine the impact and outcomes of those strategies.

 “We’re proud that the College of Education at Texas State is one of only 10 universities accepted into this national community,” says Dr. Michael O’Malley, Dean of the College of Education. “We are committed to working with AACTE and our partner universities to decrease the national shortage of highly qualified special education teachers and to substantively increase diversity among the special education teachers of Texas.” 

The project is supported by The Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform Center, which works to collaborate with national organizations and other stakeholders to ensure that students with disabilities receive equitable opportunities. 

“This project aligns with our core values of equity and inclusion,” says O’Malley, “and I am confident that by working together, we will achieve a national impact that benefits P-12 schools, special education students and diverse communities.”

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922